The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most successful and stable franchises in NFL history. They have had just 3 head coaches since 1969, a period in which they have won 6 Super Bowls. Since Mike Tomlin took over the reins in 2007 they have been to two Super Bowls and lifted one, but in recent years cracks are starting to show in the glittering facade of the Steelers.
The rosters stars are unhappy, the long history of terrific defense and tough-nosed football has disappeared in favor of an offense-first philosophy that has seen them fall behind the Patriots in the AFC hierarchy. New England equaled Pittsburgh for the most Super Bowls in NFL history in February, and look set to overtake them as the franchise goes through another offseason of drama and disfunction.
Fortunately, in Madden 19 you don’t need to worry about balancing personalities and keeping superstars happy. In Madden 19 the Steelers talented roster has them as one of the best teams in the game. They have an 86 overall rating, powered by a remarkable 93 rated offense. The defense has just an 83 rating, but that’s not terrible. They are one of the best teams available in Madden 19, though in Franchise Mode there is a reckoning coming in the shape of the salary cap.
Pittsburgh Steelers Salary Cap
The Steelers start Madden 19 Franchise Mode with $28.4 million in cap space. They have 59 players on their preseason roster, meaning you can open up some more cap space by cutting down to 53. The biggest way to free up cap space is to move Le’Veon Bell out of the squad. Just cutting him will free up $14.5 million, but that would be a waste of a 93 OVR running back. Trading him can free up the same space and get you a second-round pick in return.
Elsewhere in the roster you can save $1.9 million by cutting Anthony Chickillo (69 OVR) and over $7 million by cutting the critically injured Ryan Shazier. However, there are not many places where you can make significant savings on the cap, making building this squad up very tricky.
Pittsburgh Steelers Impending Free Agents
The Steelers have 25 players entering the final year of their contract, including Le’Veon Bell. If you want to keep Bell then you will need to forget about re-signing basically any of the other players and making any further additions to your roster.
Beyond Bell, Ryan Shazier is a free agent after season 1 too. His catastrophic back injury is listed as a broken tailbone in Madden 19 and he is out for 23 weeks, meaning you can re-sign him and have him on the field for season 2. Veteran left guard Ramon Foster is also an impending free agent, threatening the stability of one of the best offensive lines in Madden. These two pieces should be your priority if you are willing to let Bell walk away. Many of the impending free agents can be easily replaced but the likes of Eli Rogers and Justin Hunter are useful parts of the receiving corps that are worth keeping if you can get them at a reasonable cap hit.
Other key free agents: Mike Hilton (CB), Coty Sensabaugh (CB), Tyson Alualu (DE)
Pittsburgh Steelers Roster Needs
The main place the Steelers roster needs improving is on defense. The Steelers have some very good defensive linemen in Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt along with a young edge rusher in TJ Watt, but behind those three there is a lot of room to get better.
At linebacker you only have Vince Williams (77 OVR) behind Shazier, which isn’t great, but you can get by with him if you are good at using a linebacker when you play defense. The biggest place you need to improve is the secondary. Your best cornerback, Joe Haden (86 OVR), is 29 and has just two years left on his contract but both Hilton (81 OVR) and Sensabaugh (75 OVR) are going to be starters for you in season 1 and free agents immediately afterwards. The cornerback spot needs investment, but so does the free safety position. Currently starting there is Sean Davis (74 OVR) who is poor. The Steelers invested in strong safety Terrell Edmunds in the 2018 draft but he is still very raw and may not devel as desired.
After you investigate the possibilities there you should start to look at the quarterback position. Ben Roethlisberger (86 OVR) is 36 and has two years left on his contract. He will decline precipitously after season 1 and that is if he doesn’t just outright retire. You have 23-year-old Mason Rudolph on the roster but he is far from ready to start in Madden 19, so you may need to invest heavily in finding the right quarterback to lead the team forward before you can even begin to start improving the secondary.
The Steelers roster starts in a good place in Madden 19, but the wheels are starting to come off. The brilliance of Bell, Roethlisberger, and Antonio Brown has sustained the Steelers for a while but that trio is starting to break up and keeping the Steelers at the top of the NFL as that happens will be very tough.